“Back to the Future Part II is by no means my favorite time travel movie, but it has my favorite time travel thing,” said Jacob Gentry, the writer and director of the new film Synchronicity. “Which is when Marty gets to see the first movie all over again. So I was like, ‘What if you made a whole movie that used just that?’”
Genrty, who previously co-directed 2007's The Signal, cites that stroke of genius by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis as one of three things that inspired him to make Synchronicity, which hits theaters and on demand January 22. In the film, a scientist named Jim (Chad McKnight) creates a wormhole that he believes will allow someone to travel though time. Once weird things start happening, the question becomes not if it works—but whether he’s already done it before.
“In Back to the Future Part II, that’s just one small section and I wanted to see, if you saw the movie from a different perspective, would you see something you didn’t see the first time?” Gentry told io9. “So I got fascinated with that whole concept.”
Back to the Future Part II was just one of the inspirations behind Synchronicity, however. Another was something very real, and a third was something extremely hypothetical.
“When I first started working on the story with Alex Orr, it was right around the time the Large Hadron Collider in CERN was really starting to gear up, and I just became fascinated with all the things they were doing,” Gentry said. “So we started thinking about a story of what it might be like working there. I thought the people at CERN are like cosmic detectives.”
“And also the notion of, if someone says something cruel to you, what if that wasn’t actually something that was cruel?” Gentry continued. “What if you got another vantage point or parallax view of that situation? What if you found out they were doing that to protect you from something?”
True to Gentry’s word, Synchronicity is a film that combines those three pillars. It has a scientist as the main character, shows many scenes as viewed from different perspectives and time periods, and ends up sneakily being about the connection between the main scientist, Jim, and a mysterious woman named Abby (played by Brianne Davis. A.J. Bowen, and Michael Ironside also co-star).
As he was making the film though, Gentry realized the more and more he thought about the film’s structure and time travel mechanics, the less important they were. The third pillar was the strongest.
“Even though I was so obsessive with the logistical [time-travel] stuff, as I got further [into the process], especially in the editing room, I realized the emotional math was way more important for a story,” Gentry said. “When I’d show people the movie they were like, ‘I don’t have to see every dot connect.’ So I made it that emotional conflict and human story were more at the forefront.”
And if you want to talk about weird, time-travelly, folding-a-story-on-top-of-itself oddness, Gentry’s discovery that the emotion of Synchronicity was the most important part of the film, became a meta commentary on the film’s actual message.
“I was becoming like Jim, the main character,” he said. “I was missing out on the whole thrust of the movie, which is [that] he’s trying to solve an emotional problem with math. I was trying to do that with the movie.”
As weird as the director becoming one with his main characters sounds, Gentry said the film was always a labor of love. Something personal, something rewarding. “I just wanted to make a movie I wanted to see,” he said. “It combines a lot of my favorite science fiction stuff and I hadn’t really seen a time travel movie the way I wanted it.”
Watch our exclusive clip from the film below:
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